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Thread: "You keep using that word": Newtonian physics

  1. #1

    "You keep using that word": Newtonian physics

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G2y8Sx4B2Sk

    There seems to be a lot of argument and misunderstanding about the meaning of Newtonian physics, fly-by-wire, and what that means for a flight model.

    Here are the three Netwonian laws, paraphrased and probably out of order

    - A body in motion will continue to travel in the same direction and at the same speed unless acted upon by a net force force

    - Every action is balanced by an equal and opposite reaction

    - Acceleration is given by the force divided by the mass of the object

    Newtonian physics applies when relativistic effects are not important.

    A lot of people seem to equate Newtonian physics with very high ship speeds. If you accelerate constantly for a really long time, then you can indeed go really fast; however, it also takes an absolute age to slow down again, or even change direction (which is also acceleration).

    The first Elite used unfeasibly powerful engines to accelerate up to ~20% of light speed very quickly, and to decelerate almost as quickly.

    Frontier: Elite II used more realistic thrusters, meaning that it could take hours or days to reach top speed or change direction.

    Normal travel and combat in Elite Dangerous is being kept to relatively low speeds (that are actually pretty fast when you think about it). This means that realistic thrusters can be used to accelerate, decelerate, and change direction quickly using Newtonian physics.

    Therefore, the relatively twitchy, responsive maneuvers seen in the videos etc are not a result of dumbed down physics, but going at resonable speeds that engines can keep up with!

    For example, the Devs have said that 500 m/s is too fast for combat, and 150 m/s feels more like it. In F:EII, the Cobra Mk III had a thrust of 20g, i.e. ~200 m/s per second. If the new ships have similar power, they will be able to change directions in a matter of seconds (or less).

    By contrast, a Cobra Mk III in Frontier Elite II traveling at 10% light speed would take over 15 hours to change course by 20 degrees, and travel over a billion miles in that time! It would also take over 40 hours to reach that speed in the first place.

    Even today (and maybe a decade or so ago), the most advanced fighter planes were inherently unstable, and are impossible to pilot without computer assistance. This is where fly by wire comes in. When we want to pitch, yaw, or roll, the ship will decide how much thrust to apply with which engine, how that engine should be oriented, and how long the thrust should be applied for.

    TL: DR, If you think you want "Newtonian physics", you probably want stupidly fast space-craft (which is what super-cruise is for), and you should stop whining !

  2. #2
    What you're advocating is an N3 violation.


    This is what i think we're all upset about.


    It is the apotheosis, the quintessential archetypal epitome of the very definition of a non-newtonian model.. scratch that - it's anti-newtonian.

    You've listed the three laws... so where's the speed dependence come in? What happens to reaction mass past 500m/s? Is this some kind of extreme MOND anomaly you've discovered?

    And your complaints about taking too long to change direction are specious - for a given thrust and mass it takes precisely as long to decelerate as to accelerate - and regardless of the direction. In fact, since we've ejected much of our mass accelerating, it's actually quicker to slow down and stop!

    With say 20G of thrust each, two cobras dogfighting will experience exactly the same flight dynamics regardless of the speed of their common reference frame - it makes no difference if they're at 500m/s or mach 500... both still have 20G's of go..

    The million dollar question you're dodging is happens to N3 past an actually-very-slow speed (when you think about it) of 500m/s?

    Sure most things travel sub-500m/s in our everyday experience. But this is a space odyssey - everything is bigger and faster and further; that's what makes it interesting. That's what's cool and enticing and unfamiliar about space travel.. that's its whole appeal - its extremes, its absence of earthly constraints.

    The inclusion of local hyperspace doesn't need to clash with basic mechanics, but it certainly doesn't circumvent them either.. and it would be a bit of a disingenuous distraction to suggest otherwise. No one's saying travel should be exclusively mechanical. But a space flight model that explicitly precludes classical locomotion is an absolute, unmitigated betrayal of the game's whole premise at the most fundamental level.

    Again, if N3 fails >500m/s then we don't need thrusters, and we don't need fuel - either for reaction matter or energy. A simple spaceship engine in such a universe would simply need a large number of small masses oscillating around the magic critical speed, going slightly below 500m/s in one direction, then slightly faster in the other; to wit, an inertial thruster, which would also be OU to boot.

    Furthermore however such a drive system would have no speed limit itself - not even limited by lightspeed! It's an assault on basic physics so profoundly conflicted it even violates its own conditions. Reductio ad absurdum, amigo.. an idea so inconsistent, it's not even self consistent.

    It's a glaring failure in the game's design, and i'm surprised and disappointed that you'd even consider it, as a proper scientician, not least for the reasons given (ie. MP)... "not technically viable" doesn't belong in the same sentence as "Elite". It's Frontier's obligation to make it technically possible, and ours to pester them about it until they do!

    Don't accept the excuses, espouse the science and try to think of solutions... but don't just blithely accept it as an inevitable compromise... not without a good fight, anyway... I mean, what if i accelerate up to max speed 500m/s, then fire a rear-facing railgun? Presumably all of the energy will be imparted to the projectile, and none to my ship, completely ignoring Newton's first, second and third... that's anti-Newtonian. It's anti-logic. It's anti-science and the antithesis of an immersive, freeform space sim.

  3. #3
    The ship just stops delivering thrust at 500m/s for whatever reason you fancy inventing. My preferred explanation is safety considerations. Higher velocities are more safely achieved with the FSD, which allows you to drop out of high-speed flight much quicker. Our spaceships are designed with ease-of-use in mind, and they don't trust us enough to give full control... Too many ships splatted against space-stations/asteroids/etc. N3 is never violated in that explanation, even if your personal sensibilities are.

  4. #4
    Originally Posted by Slawkenbergius View Post (Source)
    The ship just stops delivering thrust at 500m/s for whatever reason you fancy inventing. My preferred explanation is safety considerations. Higher velocities are more safely achieved with the FSD, which allows you to drop out of high-speed flight much quicker. Our spaceships are designed with ease-of-use in mind, and they don't trust us enough to give full control... Too many ships splatted against space-stations/asteroids/etc. N3 is never violated in that explanation, even if your personal sensibilities are.
    As much as I have never liked the game to cap us at 500m/s under ordinary and combat flight, this explanation of yours is perfectly valid and justifiable...

  5. #5
    Originally Posted by Bounder View Post (Source)

    You've listed the three laws... so where's the speed dependence come in? What happens to reaction mass past 500m/s? Is this some kind of extreme MOND anomaly you've discovered?
    There's no speed dependence in the laws of physics... the laws of humankind, who knows?

    And your complaints about taking too long to change direction are specious - for a given thrust and mass it takes precisely as long to decelerate as to accelerate - and regardless of the direction. In fact, since we've ejected much of our mass accelerating, it's actually quicker to slow down and stop!

    With say 20G of thrust each, two cobras dogfighting will experience exactly the same flight dynamics regardless of the speed of their common reference frame - it makes no difference if they're at 500m/s or mach 500... both still have 20G's of go..
    That's only true if they are travelling in the same direction overall. For example:

    - you've nudged your Cobra Mk III up to 10% lightspeed. It's taken over 41.5 hours, but damn it all, you made it.

    - you see one of your friends, also going at 10% lightspeed, but their course is 20 degrees different from yours

    - it would take over 15 hours to change course so that you are facing the same direction as your friend!

    - of course, you would be running parallel, over a billion miles away, but I guess it's a start!

    The million dollar question you're dodging is happens to N3 past an actually-very-slow speed (when you think about it) of 500m/s?

    Sure most things travel sub-500m/s in our everyday experience. But this is a space odyssey - everything is bigger and faster and further; that's what makes it interesting. That's what's cool and enticing and unfamiliar about space travel.. that's its whole appeal - its extremes, its absence of earthly constraints.
    No one is saying that exceeding 500 m/s breaks the laws of physics. Maybe that's the point where it starts getting more efficient to supercruise, so no-one ever bothers going faster in real space.

    One factor that IS speed dependent is the impact of space debris. If you zoom through real space at high speed, then you're going to hit something that'll put a hole in you!

    ... It's an assault on basic physics so profoundly conflicted it even violates its own conditions. Reductio ad absurdum, amigo.. an idea so inconsistent, it's not even self consistent.
    That reasoning is based on the fallacy that physics is somehow holding you back rather than e.g. good manners, or cost-efficiency. You are barking in the wrong forrest, old boy!

    "not technically viable" doesn't belong in the same sentence as "Elite". It's Frontier's obligation to make it technically possible, and ours to pester them about it until they do!
    Nurse!

  6. #6
    I do not want to die of old age playing Elite, so I am happy that some of the physics are pushed aside in favor of fun game play.

  7. #7
    Fun trumps all. As long as the game is fun for the majority of the people to get the widest possible player base, we all win. Make the game Newtonian to the extreme and we lose players and the game becomes a niche game that will have a low player pool and a short life span. No one that waited decades for this game wants that fate.

    Calebe

  8. #8
    Originally Posted by Sparticus View Post (Source)
    I do not want to die of old age playing Elite, so I am happy that some of the physics are pushed aside in favor of fun game play.
    My thoughts exactly! We'll be playing a GAME with spaceships. Not some elitist science simulator for science professor wannabe's. Personally I found frontier and ffe to be disappointing when it came to combat mechanics. It wasn't as much fun as the original elite.

    Fun > realism

  9. #9

  10. #10
    Originally Posted by Susimetsa View Post (Source)
    realism = fun
    How much realism are we talking here? What we know just now to be real or what we think might be real in the future? If the former, then a lot needs to come out the the game. If the latter, surly it's potential realism?

  11. #11
    Originally Posted by Bounder View Post (Source)
    It's a glaring failure in the game's design, and i'm surprised and disappointed that you'd even consider it, as a proper scientician, not least for the reasons given (ie. MP)... "not technically viable" doesn't belong in the same sentence as "Elite". It's Frontier's obligation to make it technically possible, and ours to pester them about it until they do!
    I agree, being a scientist by myself i find the OP embarrassing.

  12. #12
    Originally Posted by Susimetsa View Post (Source)
    realism = fun
    It can be but that's not a certainty and if it's too realistic it won't be fun.

    How about sitting around for a few hours waiting for your ship to refuel?

    Or having to use the in-game toilet every now and again, perhaps even during a fight since when you gotta go, you gotta go!

    Realism <> fun, at least not all the time.

    Perhaps Fun > Realism? :smilie:

  13. #13
    Originally Posted by Susimetsa View Post (Source)
    realism = fun
    I am really sitting in an office testing Auto Enrolment in a Payroll system. It is not fun.

  14. #14
    my realism = fun thing was more of a response to the relatively obnoxious post that preceded it.

    Let's say that I want the games that I play be realistic, but where they deviate from realism, I'd usually like to have good, in-world explanations for why they do so. Skipping uninteresting parts of people's lives is different from breaking the known laws of physics, be it by presenting 20 pound swords that are bigger than the little women wielding them, or ignoring the laws of motion.

    HOWEVER, I'm relatively happy with the way Frontier has set this up by saying that this is a gameplay simplification and does not affect the fiction set in the same universe. If it also affected the fiction, then I'd really need to hear a good, reasonable argument to why it is so, but I can look pure gameplay limitations through my fingers a little bit.

    Still, I look forward to having some hands-on time with the game to make my final decision about this aspect.

  15. Click here to go to the next staff post in this thread. #15
    I wonder if this thread is really necessary

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